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French Version

Jordan arrests opposition activists

Party says members detained for distributing leaflets against fuel hikes

Jordan's opposition Islamic Action Front party (IAF) accused the authorities of detaining dozens of its members for distributing leaflets against fuel hikes that went into effect Sunday.

For the third time in less than a year, the government late Saturday announced price increases of petrol, gas and home heating oil from between 12 and 43 percent in a bid to reduce the budget deficit.

There were conflicting reports on the number of people detained by the authorities over the past few days for handing out leaflets calling on Jordanians to observe a two-hour work stoppage Sunday over price hikes.

But officials from the IAF, which is the political wing of Jordan's Muslim Brotherhood, said that most of those detained were soon released.

IAF MP Azzam Heneidi said about 40 partisans were arrested, with three still in custody in the northern city of Irbid.

A statement by IAF Secretary General Zaki Bani Rsheid on the party's Web site said "around 20" had been detained but "most had been released" by the police who seized the leaflets they were distributing.

The call launched by the IAF and opposition parties for a work stoppage appeared largely unheeded as many shops remained open in Amman, according to Agence France Presse correspondents.

Nevertheless around 20 people gathered outside an Amman mosque at the request of IAF MP Zuheir Abu Ragheb, who denounced the price hikes.

"The Islamic Action Front had offered the authorities a string of alternatives, such as raising customs tariffs on alcoholic beverages and cigarettes to avoid fuel price increases," Abu Ragheb said.

"The government did not listen to us," he said, adding that instead of raising prices the authorities should reduce government spending.

Heneidi also told the rally that authorities should "tackle, first, rampant corruption."

The IAF and other opposition parties have called for a sit-in outside Parliament but said that Amman Governor Saad al-Manasseer had refused to give them the required permit to hold a public demonstration.

Amman,09April2006
Redaction
The Daily Star


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